I think we all know that puppies can be silly and do funny things, but what many people don’t know is that they also have unique communication skills. Puppies communicate through their body language, and they can tell us a lot about how they’re feeling just by the way they move their bodies. For example, lip licking and yawning are both signs of stress in dogs.
What does it mean if my dog lip licks or yawns?
Sure, puppies yawn when they are tired or even when they wake up from a nap. Puppies lick their lips when they eat something tasty. But, these aren’t the only reasons puppies yawn and lick their lips.
Yawning can also be a sign of stress. Dogs might yawn when they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Lip licking is another sign of stress that many people overlook. Puppies will often lick their lips when they feel nervous or threatened. If you see your puppy (or dog) doing either of these things, it’s important to assess what happened right before the lip lick or yawn in order figure out what’s causing the stress. Once you identify what’s causing your puppy to feel stressed, you can then help them create a positive emotional response to the stressor. Ignoring your puppy’s stress signals can lead to serious behavioral problems down the road
What to Do If Your Puppy Is Stressed
If you think your puppy is stressed or feeling overwhelmed, there are a few things you can do to help ease their anxiety.
- Try to identify the source of the stress
- Remove your puppy from the situation if you see continued signs of stress
- Move to a quiet spot if you can’t immediately leave the situation and regroup
If you aren’t sure how to help your stressed puppy, consider taking her to the vet for a checkup. If there is an underlying medical component contributing to her stress, your veterinarian will be able to help. No amount of training will help ‘fix’ a medical problem.
If your vet has given the all clear and there are no medical underlying factors causing your puppy’s stress, consult with a fear free, positive reinforcement trainer who is versed in behavior to help you and your puppy.
These are just two of the many ways our puppies use body language to communicate how they are feeling. It’s often reported a puppy starts growling or has bitten “out of the blue”. Behavior never happens out of the blue. Puppies give us a lot of signals to let us know when they are stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. If we listen to what they are saying, we can help our puppies and avoid situations that could cause behavior fallout.
Puppies are cute, but they don’t come with instruction manuals. Need some help? Yes, send in the reinforcements.